05/04/2017

Podiatrists provide ‘secret’ to preventing the most common heel injury

Plantar fasciitis affects nearly three million people in the United States

Does that first step out of bed in the morning ever result in sharp pain in your heel? After a day in the office, do you experience discomfort putting pressure on the back of your feet?

You may be experiencing plantar fasciitis – and you wouldn’t be alone. 

Keith Rouse, DPM, (left) and David Valbuena, DPM, podiatrists and board-certified ankle and foot surgeons with Georgia Foot and Ankle Institute in Savannah.

Plantar fasciitis is an inflammation of a thick band of tissue (called plantar fascia) that runs across the bottom of the foot and connects the heel bone to the toes, says Dr. David Valbuena, DPM, podiatrist and board-certified ankle and foot surgeon with Georgia Foot and Ankle Institute in Savannah. It is the most common heel injury podiatrists treat, Valbuena says.

Plantar fasciitis affects nearly three million people in the United States, with four out of five getting plantar fasciitis at some point in their life, says Dr. Keith Rouse, DPM, podiatrist and board-certified ankle and foot surgeon with Georgia Foot and Ankle Institute.

“We have young athletes to 90-year-olds with plantar fasciitis and everyone in between,” Rouse says. “We see a lot of soldiers with plantar fasciitis because they run so much. However, we also have sedentary patients who get it because they sit so much and when they stand it pulls the tissue more.”

“Plantar fasciitis does not discriminate,” Valbuena adds. “We see patients with all different foot types, all different body types and all different activity levels come in with plantar fasciitis.”

Plantar fasciitis is caused by straining the plantar fascia that runs across the bottom of your foot and supports your arch. Repeated strain can cause tiny tears in the ligament, which can lead to weakness, pain and swelling. Some patients feel stabbing pain near the heel, especially in the morning or after sitting for a long time. For some, the injury can be so debilitating it causes trouble walking.

Preventing plantar fasciitis

Straining the plantar fascia can be a tough cycle to break, Valbuena says, but getting plantar fasciitis is preventable.

Valbuena and Rouse suggest proper arch support, stretching before and after athletic activity and always wearing proper shoe gear.

“A lot of people go barefoot at home. You may have carpet or hardwood floors, but you are still walking on a cement slab,” Rouse says. “If you just wore shoes at home … not to give away all our secrets, but if people just wore shoes at home it might help a lot.”

Treating the condition

To help treat plantar fasciitis, Valbuena says the first line of defense is stretching, anti-inflammatories, ice and arch support. Only between five and 10 percent of plantar fasciitis patients require surgery, which typically involves releasing or lengthening the plantar fascia.

“You can try inserts, physical therapy and injections, and if all that fails you are a candidate for surgery,” Rouse says. “If they’ve gotten that far, usually they’ve had an MRI to make sure there’s also no tarsal tunnel or nerve damage.”

Talk to your primary care physician or schedule an appointment with a podiatrist to talk about foot care concerns. Click here to learn more about Georgia Foot and Ankle Institute.

 

Also read from Dr. Valbuena and Dr. Rouse: Peripheral neuropathy: Understanding diabetes effects on your feet 

  • St. Joseph's Hospital Campus: 11705 Mercy Blvd., Savannah, GA 31419, (p) 912-819-4100
  • Candler Hospital Campus: 5353 Reynolds St., Savannah, GA 31405, (p) 912-819-6000
  • Find us on:

St.Joseph's Hospital Campus: 912-819-4100

Candler Hospital Campus: 912-819-6000